Climate in Court

Citizens and organizations have filed more than 1,300 lawsuits related to climate change in at least 28 countries around the world, an analysis has found. Of the 1,328 suits filed from 1990 to May 2019, more than three-quarters were in the United States. But the report’s authors note that the share of lawsuits filed in low- and middle-income countries such as Pakistan and Uganda is on the rise. The vast majority of suits have been filed since 2006. 

Most of the legal battles are against governments, in attempts to bolster action against global warming, but there are also cases against businesses, as well as some registered with international courts. Many seek to strengthen climate policies — for instance, in a landmark 2015 case in the Netherlands, a court ruled in favour of citizens urging their government to accelerate emissions reductions. 

The analysis, conducted by policy researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science, notes that cases are increasingly drawing on ‘attribution science’, which aims to establish causal links between human-induced climate change and certain extreme weather events.

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